Pierogi people

Growing up, I thought it was kind of cool to be Polish.  There are not a lot of us out here in California; it was nice to be unique.  And though I have always envied the Irish for having such a merry and universally-celebrated holiday, I’ve always been quietly proud that my great-grandparents came from the land of Chopin and Paderewski.  One of these years, I hope to travel there myself.

Thankfully, I get a little “Polish fix” each winter. My cousin Mark’s wife Lisa is also of Polish descent, and several years ago, she decided to create a new tradition: an evening of kielbasa, pierogi, pagach, Polish trivia, and other good things.   Every year she and my cousin host us all, and it’s always a great time.

Last weekend was no exception.

Before dinner, we snapped a photo of all of the adult Poles-by-blood (there were several Poles-by-marriage in the company, too).  The kids were off doing something else, probably involving Matchbox cars or a drum set, both of which got a lot of play over the course of the evening.

We ate very well, too:

My contribution was going to be an authentic coffee and chocolate mousse.  Alas, it was an epic fail, with melted chocolate that turned into  the consistency of cement.  (I improvised a simple cake last-minute; see the amended menu above.)  It’s a curious fact that nearly every time I’ve made a recipe from an authentic Polish cookbook, something has gone wrong.  I take this as a sign that when it comes to Polish cuisine, my role  in life is to eat it, not to create it.

I did that extremely well on Saturday,  consuming more cranberry rugelah than I should ever admit to in polite company.   And did I mention the kielbasa?  (Vegetarians, avert your gaze.)

Overall, it was a fabulous evening.  I’m grateful for Lisa’s vision all those years ago, and for her work to keep the family heritage alive.  And I love that my two little boys, those Polish-Irish-German-English mutts, get a yearly celebration of one of the places in the world that has made them who they are.

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